Q Fever! Medical Humor & Satire

July 26, 2000 | Volume 1, Issue 4

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Spittoons Removed From Surgical ICU

Surgeon increasingly obsessed with "Surgical Cowboy" persona

INDIANAPOLIS, IN—A spokesperson for the MidWest Medical Center announced today that the hospital would remove all spittoons from its surgical intensive care unit, following complaints by patients.

"This has all been a colossal misunderstanding, and we want to put it behind us", said hospital spokesman Henry O'Toole.

According to O'Toole, the 19th century-style saliva receptacles had been placed in the intensive care unit by Dr. Nick Testa, a staff surgeon.

Anonymous sources within the hospital described Dr. Testa's reputation as a surgical "cowboy", a part he had increasingly tried to play to the maximum.

"First people were just referring to him as a 'cowboy' because he basically took anyone to the OR, no matter what their problem was", said the source. "Then about five years ago, he started wearing hand-tooled cowboy boots...OK, lots of surgeons do that."

Spittoon in use during

Apparently several staff were upset when Dr. Testa tried last month to operate on a patient wearing a Lone Ranger-style mask, instead of a standard surgical mask.

"He was just yelling: 'This IS my mask, this IS my mask', when they tried to get him out of the OR", according to Sally Stevens, a MidWestern scrub nurse.

Testa has apparently also tried to enter the OR with a bandana pulled up over his handlebar moustache.

Many staff members regarded as amusing Testa's practice of carrying his stethoscope in a holster, drawing it with a rapid motion when he intended to examine a patient. However, when Testa brought three large brass spittoons into the surgical intensive care unit, patients and their families began to complain.

Testa's habit of chewing tobacco and spitting towards the spittoons reportedly became increasingly disruptive to intensive care unit staff, who frequently had to change intravenous lines and dressings when Testa missed his mark.

According to O'Toole, Dr. Testa is currently on vacation in Montana, and so is unavailable for comment.

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